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Eclipse To Resume Production

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Eclipse Aerospace says it's now taking orders for a new aircraft that will be based on the Eclipse 500 but offer some modern improvements. In a podcast interview at NBAA 2011 in Las Vegas, Eclipse President Mason Holland said the company hopes for first deliveries of the new Eclipse 550 in 2013 and the aircraft that's planned will set the standard for the tiny jet market. The 550 will boast an improved avionics package including auto throttles, synthetic vision, enhanced vision and a host of standard and optional improvements that will make it the most advanced light jet available. The new aircraft will sell for $2.695 million. The return to production has been made possible in large part through the partnership with Sikorsky Aircraft announced at last year's NBAA convention, which will have a key role in the resumption of production.

Although all the details don't seem to have been worked out, the basic airframes of the 550 will be built at a Sikorsky plant in Poland and final assembly will take place at Eclipse's spacious Albuquerque facilities. Holland said the geography of the operation may change in coming years and assembly might take place closer to where the aircraft markets are located. He said that since the aircraft is already certified, work can begin immediately on the new planes and production will be balanced against demand. He said the initial projections indicate production of 50 to 100 aircraft a year.

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